My Writing Life: 1st Draft vs 2nd Draft

Hello everyone! Today I would like to talk about drafting. I am currently on the second draft of my novel The Revelation Academy and I have noticed quite a few differences between my experience of writing them.

The first draft was written during NaNoWriMo last year, I wrote the whole 50,000 words of the first draft in 28 days (with 2 weeks of planning before that). At the start of the month I was strongly motivated to write the story, I had been planning it for 2 weeks and was itching to start. I wrote nearly 7000 words on November 1st (I had the day off of work). After that I kept writing but at a much slower pace. I started losing motivation about half way through, I was sitting in the low 20k range and just couldn’t push through. Thankfully I had a friend also participating who was about 10k ahead of me. Now I can get quite competitive on occasion so be assured that I wasn’t going to let my friend storm ahead leaving me behind to fail. (She wouldn’t have gloated or anything but I used it to motivate me). I had found more fuel for my writing, I had figured out how I was going to end the book and I couldn’t wait to get there. I managed to power my way to the end of the book by November 28th.


Now fast forward 3 1/2 months to today, I am working on the second draft but I am stuck at chapter three! The second draft is so much harder! I’m not working on figuring out what is going to happen next quite so much, it is more of improving what I already have. Now I know I am not a fantastic writer, the book needs a lot of work! I’m just finding it hard to get the motivation to work on it. In the past week I have taken to rewriting my outline by hand, hoping that the change in method will trick my brain into thinking it is a brand new project so it will work more efficiently. It’s not going too bad, I’ve almost worked through the whole book in outline form. Now some of you are probably thinking ‘Well why doesn’t she try that with the actual book, just write it out by hand, loads of people do!’ well dear readers I can’t write a whole book by hand, my fingers won’t let me. For those of you who don’t know me personally I have chronic joint pain in my upper body. Typing is easy enough but I can only hand write long pieces in 5 minute sprints, with at least another 5 minutes break. That is not a quick enough way to write for me to be comfortable with. So I am resorting to tricking my brain on occasion to get it into the right frame of mind to rewrite this book. I will get to the end of this draft though, and then the whole process will begin again and again and again because that is what us writers have to do!

How about my readers who are writers? What have you found about your experience with drafting? Got any tips?

If you like what I write then please consider taking a look at my Ko-Fi page! I am currently trying to buy my own domain and go self-hosted! Any help is most welcome.


Short Story Review – The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe by Kate Sander

Hello everyone and welcome to my first review of a short story! First off a language warning, I do use one swear word in my review so youngun’s shouldn’t read this without permission from their parent/guardian.

The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe is a thrilling short story by Kate Sander. The first in a series, named the Happily Ever After series, follows a 85-year old woman, Agatha, through her experience of the zombie apocalypse. In interesting angle on an often visited tale. With shows on TV and films in the cinema telling the story of the zombie apocalypse (The Walking Dead, Z Nation and World War Z come to mind) you would think this topic had been done to death (and then made undead!). But Kate takes a refreshing twist and runs with it.

Before we really get into the topic of zombies in the story we get a glimpse of life in sheltered accommodation (a system where elderly people are cared for but still retain their independance) and I love the fact that we see the social life of these elderly people before they are turned, it’s good to see that bitchiness is found in the older generation as well as our own.

I found myself rather surprised that I liked a character who owned a gun store. Being anti-gun myself I wasn’t sure what to expect from the character of Agnes, but I found myself liking her straightforward attitude in the face of the zombie apocalypse.

Overall this short story is well written, using a first person perspective to tell the story very well. Although the story jumps about a bit timewise but it suits the story brilliantly. My only problem with it? I want to know more about how Agnes and Agatha adapted to living during the zombie uprising, but that would probably make it a full novel rather than a short story!

You can find a copy of The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe on Amazon. Also available is the sequel to the Happily Ever After series, The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

February Book Haul

Hello everyone, happy Sunday!

Last month I posted a list of books I had bought, as there had been so many I wanted to showcase them! Well I wasn’t expecting to post about a haul again, but then I went and bought a lot of books again! So here is my February book haul!

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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

  • I saw this by chance in the Tesco close to my family on a visit earlier this month. I was quite happy to get it as I had seen it all over social media for a little while. And at £4 who could say no?!

Coraline & Other Stories by Neil Gaiman

  • Small confession. I didn’t know Coraline was a book until late last year. I know! I’m terrible. But after I started following Neil Gaiman on Twitter I read about it and since then I’ve wanted to read the book that lead to a brilliant film.

Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

  • Ok, technically I bought this in January, but it was a pre-order and it only arrived on the 20th February so it counts! I very quickly read the first book in the series, Truthwitch, at the beginning of the year. You can read my review here. I quickly bought the second book, Windwitch, which I am currently reading and will be reviewing this month. Sightwitch is a prequel, focusing on one of the background characters from the series. It is written like a diary and the way it has been printed makes it feel like a diary!

A Glimmer of Hope by Steve McHugh

  • This is the first in follow-up series for Steve McHugh, it is currently on pre-sale but I was lucky enough to get it early (on Kindle) as a Amazon Prime member on World Book Day. I’m quite eager to read and review this for you all!

The Fandom by Anna Day

  • This is another book I saw all over social media a few weeks ago so when it went on sale on Amazon Kindle I just had to get it! I haven’t started reading it yet but I am looking forward to it.

SEO and Search Marketing in a week and Social Media Marketing in a week by Nick Smith

  • And on the non-fiction side I bought these two books at the same time as Coraline as I kinda need to start learning some business stuff if I want to take this whole writing/blogging thing full time!

So what do you think of my haul for the last month? What did you get to read? Any suggestions for what will evidently become my March book haul?

Book Review: Anna Undreaming by Thomas Welsh

Hello everyone and welcome to my latest book review. I am very excited to be reviewing this book today as I was lucky enough to be given an ARC (advance reader copy) of this book. There isn’t long left till the release date so hurry up and pre-order your copy of this amazing book! You can find it very reasonably priced here Anna Undreaming (The Metiks Fade Trilogy) (Please note that this is an affiliate link).

anna undreaming

Important Information

Author: Thomas Welsh (Twitter, Goodreads, Website)

Release date: 20th March 2018

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Length: 368 pages

Available formats: Paperback & Kindle

My thoughts on the story

Anna Undreaming is a roller-coaster of a read. It starts out quite dark with some scenes that are a little confusing. But as you are closely following the main character, Anna, as she discovers a new version of reality it isn’t surprising that it’s so confusing to begin with. But it gets clearer the more you read, the more Anna comes to understand the world she is now a part of.

The world that Welsh created in Anna Undreaming is interesting in many different ways. He shows in his world that creativity, in any form, can be used for great good or great evil. The idea that an art form can change the world is an exciting idea. Anna’s adventures through this new world captivated me from the beginning. The twists and turns that Anna comes across kept me guessing right until the end, even a few times had me tearing up (I promise no spoilers, but wow!).

My thoughts on the characters

Anna is a complex character who I was quite keen to unravel. She clearly has a dark past that affected her actions throughout the book and you don’t even get a semi-full background story on her trauma until the final chapters, though I still feel like there is more to discover on that part. Despite the trauma she experienced and the events that happen to her as the story develops Anna remains a strong character, and that is part of how the book is sold. Welsh advertises it as having strong female characters and he certainly delivers.

The next character that share a fair amount of pagetime is Teej, another Metik like Anna. Teej is somewhat mysterious and I quite enjoyed trying to figure him out along with Anna. There is still a lot more to discover about him but I have to say I admire his determination!

My thoughts on the style

Welsh creates his descriptions beautifully. The way he describes the scenes is brilliant and makes it easy for the reader to picture his world easily, from the beautiful scenery to the somewhat haunting creations seen in the Hazes.

Welsh writes Anna’s story in a restrictive POV so you aren’t always given all of the information, but I prefer this style honestly. Despite his brilliant descriptions he still leaves some mysteries to be found by the reader, again something I prefer in a fantasy book.

The language that Welsh uses becomes something unique with the new terminology he created. There are several words and phrases throughout the book that aren’t in the Oxford Dictionary, but don’t despair for Welsh has created a glossary at the back of the book (for once you have my permission to skip to the last pages, just don’t peak at the last chapter!). I admit I didn’t really expect much of a new language, given that the book is an urban fantasy, not set in a Tolkienesque world, but it wasn’t hard to understand for very long.

Final thoughts

Anna Undreaming is a good read for anyone looking for a world of magic (but not like the magic we are used to), strong female characters and, to quote Willy Wonka, a world of pure imagination!

five stars

Camp NaNoWriMo Is Coming!

Hello everyone. Yes, it’s true! Camp NaNoWriMo is coming! Now some of you might have been reading in November last year when I posted about NaNoWriMo and what I was writing. But for those new people out there (who might not know about NaNoWriMo) here is a quick overview.

What on earth is NaNoWriMo? And why does it have a Camp?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) takes place every November. Everyone who signs up declares that they are going to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Sounds mad right? Well it is, but it is fun as well. I wrote a series of posts about my experience last year, you can read the first one here.

For the first time last year I succeeded and ended up with a first draft of The Revelation Academy which I am still working on today.

Camp NaNoWriMo is slightly different and somewhat easier. It takes place every April and July and you can set your own targets. You can choose to use words to measure against like the main event in November or you can select pages, hours, minutes, lines or one of several other options. You can work on any project for Camp, where you are meant to work on something brand new in November (although not everyone follows that rule).

During Camp everyone is sorted into Cabins. You can choose your own Cabin settings (i.e. people with a similar target, genre or someone completely random). You are grouped together to give each other support, each group is small enough that everyone can be heard on the group discussion board. I might be wrong but I believe the average number is 20 people per cabin.

So what am I doing?

For April I have set myself the target of writing 30 pages for The Revelation Academy. I am currently rewriting the draft so I am working with blank pages, sort of.

I am quite looking forward to Camp NaNoWriMo this year as it’s the first time I will be working with a complete draft. I hope I might be more productive this April than I was last year (I failed miserably).

If April goes well I will set myself a similar target for July. Both months might end up fairly difficult as I will be on holiday during both months! Lucky me but I will have no access to my laptop during them both! Hopefully I will be able to do enough writing by hand to make up for the difference.

The ultimate aim is that at the end of the two Camps I will have a revised draft of The Revelation Academy!

I will also be updating the NaNoWriMo page at the top of the blog with my progress like I did in November. I will try to do this semi-regularly!

Sounds cool, I want to sign up!

Brilliant! All you need to do is go to this website, and create an account. My username is JLBarrett112 if you want to look me up! I will be posting regularly on this blog throughout April, giving you all updates on how I am doing and how badly I am keeping up with my target.

World Book Day – My Favourite Books

Hello everyone and happy World Book Day!

Today I will be talking about my favourite books from my childhood in celebration. But before we dive into that topic, a little bit about World Book Day for those of you who haven’t heard about it before.

World Book Day first started 21 years ago in 1997 and it’s main aim is to get more children reading for pleasure. World Book Day started around the time I first started reading as a child (I was born in 1992 for reference). For the child I think the most exciting thing is getting to go to school dressed up as your favourite book character. The orgaisation get schools participating by sending them book vouchers and resource packs.

World Book Day does amazing work introducing children to wonderful books as well as the experience of reading for pleasure (an activity that took over my childhooda nd is only hampered now by the boring day job!). If you want to read more check out their website for more information.

So to my list of books that have stuck with me since my childhood! (In no particular order by the way)

  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
    • Of course this series is on this list, how could it not be? I remember I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when I saw that my dad had the board game and I wanted to play. He told me I couldn’t play till I read at least the first book, I borrowed his copy and the rest is history!Harry Potter
  • Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
    • I was recommended this series by a friend, Jess, from Secondary School. It was far more adult that most of the books I had read until that point. Here I have to state that I am a cis white female and I happened to grow up in a small community that wasn’t really diverse until I was 15 or so, not by design just pure coincidence. So reading a book about racism being flipped so white people are treated like black people were several decades ago kind of shoved the issue of racism (of any kind) into the forefront of my mind. It made me really think about the racism the world has experienced and is still experiencing. I will always love this series as I believe it really made me think more broadly than I had before and I can only thank Malorie Blackman for it.BlackmanQuadrilogy
  • The Black Magician by Trudi Canavan
    • Magic, class systems breaking down and mysteries to be unravelled. This series has it all. I can’t remember when I first read The Magicians Guild but I know I was a teenager at the time. This series intrigued me from the start and I think I read through the trilogy quite fast, considering each book is 450 pages plus and I was mostly used to reading books the length of the early Harry Potter books it was a welcome challenge for me. the magicians guild
  • The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
    • I believe I actually got the first book in this series on World Book Day at my Primary School’s library! It follows the character Eragon as he discovers he is the last (good) Dragon Rider. I was never really into dragons before reading this series but reading about the relationship between Eragon and Saphira was amazing. I fell in love with them and their odd way off communicating. The series was originally meant to be a trilogy but the author found there was too much material to include so it soon became a quartet. The time between releases was quite long so the last book didn’t come out until I was nearly 20! Also the fact that Christopher Paolini started writing the series when he was 16 and he got it published was quite inspiring for a young writer like myself.the inheritance cycle
  • Jacqueline Wilson books
    • There are several Jacqueline Wilson books that I read when I was younger that have stuck with me. There is Vicky Angel that taught me that nothing stays happy forever and that kids my age could die (a happy thought). The Suitcase Kid which showed me that having a so-called ‘broken family’ doesn’t always work out as well as it did with my parents (for the record they broke up when I was a toddler and there have never been any issues between them as far as I’m aware). There is also the Girls in Love series which I loved as a kid, I thought they were romantic, but now looking back I realise how badly they portray certain aspects of being a teenager. Finally there is The Diamond Girls which I know I have read but for the life of me I cannot remember what happens I just always remembered I have read it.
    • I know this section isn’t as cheery as the others, but I thought I should tell you about the books that have influenced me in more than one way.

So there you have it, the books that have stuck with me the most as I grew up! What books have stuck with you? Have you read the books I have mentioned? What did you think of them? How are you celebrating World Book Day?

I Joined Tumblr!

Just a quick post this evening. Simply to announce that I have joined Tumblr. I have seen so many bloggers and authors talking about their Tumblr blogs so I thought I would take  a look myself. My username is simply parchmentandquillchronicle so you can come find me if you like.

Send me your usernames so I can find you too (if you want to)!

My main aim for the blog is to post updates on my writing projects as well as pretty pictures of books. I might also get brave enough to post my attempts at writing poetry, something I have always wanted to do but been far too intimidated!

Book Review: The Devil’s Poetry by Louise Cole

Welcome to my latest book review! This review takes part in a book blog tour, which began yesterday on Orchard Book Club and Amiiie’s Books. The tour has been organised by Faye Rogers, who can be found at



Questions are dangerous but answers can be deadly.

Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends will be sent to the front line. Many of them won’t come back. When a secret order tells her she can bring peace by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution – too easy. Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies. The Order is every bit as ruthless as the paranormal Cadaveri.

Callie can only trust two people – her best friend and her ex-marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides. She must decide: how far will she go to stop a war?

Dare she read this book? What’s the price – and who pays it?

Commended in the Yeovil Prize 2016, this is an action-packed blend of adventure, fantasy and love story.

Important Information

Title: The Devil’s Poetry

Author: Louise Cole

Release Date: 13th June 2017

Genre: YA Thriller

Publisher: Kindle Press

Format: Ebook

The Devil’s Poetry: Volume 1 (The Devil’s Poetry Series) – Affiliate Amazon Link

The Devil’s Poetry on Goodreads

Thoughts on the story

The synopsis above alone intrigued me, along with the amazing cover art. I immediately had questions I needed answers to; what was this book? How could a book solve world war? As an avid reader the possibility that reading a book could do so much good hooked me. I had to read more.

The story kicks off with Callie and her friends reacting to people they know being called off to war, soon deciding to go out for the night. The action doesn’t take long to start, with the adversaries finding Callie and attempting to attack quite quickly. We stick quite close to Callie throughout the book, the narrative being in the 1st person, so we don’t really get to understand what is going on unless Callie does. There are some breaks in the narrative but no great spoilers are given for what is going to happen to Callie next.

Louise Cole write the indecisiveness Callie faces when she has to make a decision that will change her life quite well. I think the indecisiveness makes the decision much more realistic. Too many heroes are faced with such a big decision and they automatically do the ‘right thing’, even if it means they sacrifice themselves. I’m sure a lot of people think they would do the same thing if they were in that position but the reality is that no one knows what they would really do in that situation. By making Callie so unsure of what to do Cole makes her much more relatable.

The antagonist isn’t one person in particular, they are a group of people named the Cadaveri. From what I can gather these people are human, or used to be human, that have developed a rather horrible ability. They have this effect on people, a disastrous effect that often leads to violence and death. This makes for a rather terrifying villain, a villain that can disable you simply by being near you. That fear keeps the threat of the villain in the forefront of your mind throughout the book. Cole mixes the horror of real life violence with the fantastical elements she has created very well, making the thriller elements of the book hit home a lot harder.

Thoughts on the characters

The main character, Callie, is a very relatable character. She is young, scared and unsure of what she needs to do. Just like many young people when faced with the prospect of their future (although we don’t have to worry about being shipped off to war). She often tries to get advice from her friends and those who are there to protect her, but ultimately she has to make the choice herself. We see Callie develop from an unsure girl to an independent young woman, although she still relies on her bodyguard, Jace, somewhat.

Jace, the ex-marine bodyguard, is a more complex character than I expected. When we first meet him he is all action, determined to keep Callie and the book safe. But as you get further into the book you discover that Jace has a softer side to him. The relationship between Callie and Jace takes a while to develop from people who have to rely on each other to people who want to stay together no matter what. I love their scenes together, they can be a nice break from the serious nature of the overall plot on occasions.

There are several more supporting characters including Callie’s best friend Amber, Jace’s commanding officer Ella, Callie’s sort-of-ex-boyfriend Alec (who I feel will be very important in the sequel) and a school friend of Callie’s called Gavin. Each play their own role in Callie’s story.

Pros and cons

Pro – Amazing story. Well written characters. Beautiful imagery.

Cons – I didn’t get completely hooked until about a third of the way through reading. It is still a good book though.

Overall rating

four and a half stars

Before you go

Louise Cole has written a sequel to The Devil’s Poetry and it will be coming out on KDP Select soon so keep a look out and get voting! The title is On Holy Ground and I cannot wait to read it!

Also the blog tour will be continuing until the 25th February so have a look at some more reviews.

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